Sir George visits Stephen's Ark
27 Apr 2000

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Sir George visits Stephen’s Ark, a respite house for children with learning disabilities run by Andover MENCAP.
“This is a tremendous facility, offering short-term breaks for children in an ordinary house in Admiral’s Way with a family atmosphere.”
Some children stay for a full day, some for half a day, and some stay overnight. With a maximum number of five children during the day, and three at night, it maintains an informal and friendly atmosphere.
The project has strong links with Icknield School, and is in the process of landscaping the garden.
“Andover MENCAP do such splendid work in Andover, with their Toy Library, the Support Workers Agency, the Supported Living Service and the Supported Employment Project.”
With Sir George in the garden are Sabine and Garry on the right, next to Vera Holland, Chair of the Children’s Services Committee to his right.

About Stephens Ark

In 1992, a group of Andover-based parents of children with severe learning disabilities - unhappy with a marked lack of respite provision in the area - set about investigating the possibility of setting up a respite facility locally.
They conducted a survey to establish the respite needs of other local
parents/children in a potentially similar situation. With Andover Mencap’s
assistance, they travelled to other parts of the country to assess how respite
for children with learning difficulties was provided elsewhere - and noted
ideas, and aspects of care, which inspired and pleased them ... and others
that did not. And so they f6rmulated an idea of what it was they really
wanted for their children: a small and homely respite house in the Andover
community. The group of parents built upon links with Social Services -
here and in Basingstoke and Wiltshire - and our local Learning Disability
Team, and then painstakingly searched Andover’s housing market until they
found 19 Byng Walk: a spacious four-bedroom house with nearby shop,
park and playing field - and within easy walking distance of town, Icknield
School, Finkley Farm, Lady’s Walk ... and now Jungle Jungle! Andover
Mencap funded the purchase of the house - and so Stephen’s Ark came into being.
After much decorating, carpeting, furnishing, equipping, and staff recruiting - undertaken largely by volunteering parents and their friends and relatives - Stephen’s Ark welcomed its first young visitors in October 1993. It has since provided respite for over 35 local children and teenagers with severe learning difficulties, enabling their carers - mainly parents and siblings – to enjoy an occasional break.

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